A suspected leader of a coal mafia was shot dead in a gunfight in Assam’s Hailakandi district at 1.30 am on Sunday, The Times of India reported. He had allegedly fled from police custody.

Superintendent of Police Gaurav Upadhay said that Abdul Ahad Choudhury was arrested by police officers on April 30 from the Karimganj district.

“The coal mafia managed to escape from police custody when he was being taken to Lala civil hospital for a medical checkup,” an unidentified police officer said, according to The Times of India.

In 2020, Choudhary was named as a suspect in a case filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation in connection with an alleged illegal coal trade from Meghalaya to Bangladesh through Assam’s Barak Valley.

Police shootings in Assam

At least 47 people have been killed and over 110 injured in police firing since the Bhartiya Janata Party returned to power in Assam in May 2021.

In December, Scroll.in had examined police records and found that 20 of 30 people killed until then belonged to the state’s ethnic and religious minorities. In most cases, the police have claimed they opened fire in self-defence or to prevent the prisoner from escaping.

On Friday, a local court in Assam had said that it has been a “routine phenomenon” in the state as the police claim that an accused person tried to flee and the personnel had to shoot at them, leaving them dead or injured.

The court made the observation while granting bail to Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani in an alleged assault case.

“The honourable Gauhati High Court may perhaps consider directing the Assam Police to reform itself by taking some measures like directing each and every police personnel engaged in law and order duty to wear body cameras, to install CCTV cameras in vehicles while arresting an accused…,” the court had said in the order. “Otherwise our state will become a police state, which the society can ill afford.”

Read: As police shootings continue in Assam, the state government openly backs them